Competitors and Enemies
posted at 1:54 am on October 12, 2010 by Doctor Zero
The Democrats have suddenly begun attacking the Chamber of Commerce with bizarre vigor. It’s odd for them to shout so loudly about foreign campaign contributions, when President Obama set records for collecting them through his circus funhouse of a Web site in 2008, and every move this Administration makes showers B-movie villain George Soros with profits. Presumably they are relying on the media to ignore these inconvenient truths, but this might prove to be a dangerous assumption. The liberal media is tired of opening its lunch box to find a few crumbs and a taunting note from Fox News. They have discovered audiences want information, not hours filled with has-been pundits and disgraced politicians discussing how much they hate Sarah Palin.
The acolytes of Big Government will always deploy the politics of hate and envy when they feel threatened. It’s built into the basic programming of corporatist and socialist systems. The free market is filled with competitors, while the State has only enemies.
Consider the rivalry between computer giants Microsoft and Apple. Apple is no threat to the market dominance of Microsoft’s operating system, but they don’t have to be. Apple’s success does not depend on destroying Microsoft, although I would imagine the idea is kicked around at some of their livelier board meetings. Apple has done extremely well for itself by carving out a niche for its Macintosh computers, and satisfying a dedicated fan base. The same thing happens all the time, in many different industries. The cost of entry may reduce the number of players, but there is always some market share up for grabs, if a competitor is tough and creative enough.
Note that Apple did not establish its market position just by damaging Microsoft. They had some good fun with their Mac-vs-PC ad campaign, needling the competition during the turbulent rollout of its Windows Vista operating system, but this campaign only worked because Apple had something to offer computer buyers. You can loosen up some potential customers by talking smack about the competition, but you need quality goods and services to reel them in.
Now, suppose the government decided to spend billions of “stimulus” dollars to design its own PC operating system, and muscle its way into the computer market. It would quickly see Microsoft and Apple as enemies, not competitors. Government cannot make the hard choices, or shoulder the burdens, necessary to compete in the free market. It’s far easier to use taxpayer funds to cover its losses, and rewrite the rules to disadvantage inconvenient elements of the private sector. Microsoft and Apple would soon find government regulations congealing around the personal computer industry, forcing them to shoulder gigantic compliance costs, or making certain elements of their business models impractical. They would also receive the Chamber of Commerce treatment, and find themselves pounded by the unlimited free media available to politicians.
This process is well under way in the health-insurance industry, as certain provisions of ObamaCare were designed to force private insurance companies out of the market, by dropping unbearable mandates for price and coverage on them. In the long run, only the State will be able to remain in the health insurance business. The State will never face the kind of agonizing decisions that will turn into a pressure cooker for private industries. It will slather taxpayer money over its losses, handing them to future generations through deficit spending. It will respond to resistance from the insurance industry by declaring them heartless bastards who want to watch children die from pre-existing conditions.
The State sees itself surrounded by enemies, because a politicized economy becomes a zero-sum equation. Government produces nothing. It rations. It can only take from some, and give to others. Redistribution is a coercive act, and resistance is met with anger.
Competition produces cost and quality benefits that increase the size of the market – look how far the use of personal computers has spread, as they became incredibly cheap and powerful. Government rationing makes a limited market contract, as the profit incentives for production and innovation disappear. The State carefully divides a stale and shriveled pie, and recoils in surprise when the supply of pie proves “unexpectedly” smaller than its calculations.
The truth behind this week’s attacks on the Chamber of Commerce is that Democrats represent a narrow group of powerful interests, some of them foreign. The mission of the Party is to secure benefits for their clients, at the expense of everyone who does not contribute money and power to their campaigns. Politically connected industries receive subsidies, funded by those who are not connected. Unions receive benefits at the expense of non-unionized workers. Wealth is transferred to favored constituencies that provide bundles of reliable votes. None of these blessings are secured through competition. They are seized through the power of the State.
In a politicized economy, the hungry clients of the ruling Party look out from their circle of influence and see, not competitors, but enemies. Their success requires the defeat and subjugation of these enemies. That is why the President and his minions require you to hate the Chamber of Commerce, and the specific Big Business entities they designate as evil. If the government continues to grow, the level of hatred needed to sustain it will increase, because space inside that circle of influence will become increasingly valuable… and scarce.
Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.
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